1.1 Lean Thinking:
Lean Thinking is an improvement approach to improve flow and eliminate waste that was first introduced in 1987. At the beginning, Lean describes production methods and product development, when compare to traditional mass production processes, which produce more with higher quality and in a short time. The Lean’s goal is to develop a way to specify value, line up value to create value in the best sequences, conduct these activities without interruption and perform them more effectively (Womack and Jones 2013).
Lean Thinking helps the removal of waste and anything unnecessary to produce the product or service. Lean methodology is a “back to basics” approach that places the needs of customers first through five steps:
1. Define value as determined by the customer, identified by the provider’s ability to deliver the right product or service at an appropriate price.
2. Identify the value stream: the set of specific actions required to bring a specific product or service from concept to completion.
3. Make value-added steps flow from beginning to end.
4. Let the customer pull the product from the supplier, rather than push products.
5. Pursue perfection of the process.
In order to meet today’s healthcare system’s needs, Lean Thinking was introduced in to healthcare to deal with less staff exertion, less technology, less time, and less workspace while providing patients, physicians, nurses, and administrators with a high level of service, and implementing less waste, shorter waiting time and more efficiency in healthcare systems. With the application of Lean, we believe that lean thinking has the potential to improve health care delivery. At the same time, we should take methodological and practical factors into consideration. Without the support of the basic theories and cases, lean implementation will be superficial and fail, adding to existing resistance and making it more difficult to improve health care in the long term.
The Hereford Hospitals is a good cases which using Lean Methodology to improve healthcare. The Hereford hospital participated in a simultaneous rapid improvement event during five days. The aim of the hospital is to improve the flow of patients and information through key patient journeys and eliminate waste. This will create extra capacity to enable the hospital to make the best use of resources, staffs, equipment and beds. After eliminating waste staff will have more time to spend on direct patient care.
Over 50 staff from all 5 areas actively participated and gave their valuable time to map out the existing patient journey. According to the Lean technology, they then designed the new patient journey without the waste and delays. Staff were given the opportunity to complete waste identification forms. All these methods were used to help identify issues that staff felt were important and needed improving. The approach of the experiment was to walk the entire process, identify each process step and the...